Editis: the 3 files awaiting Daniel Kretinsky

Editis: the 3 files awaiting Daniel Kretinsky

The fact is rare enough to be underlined: the Bolloré family is preparing to show a loss with the resale of Editis, the number two French publisher. Acquired for 900 million euros of enterprise value (i.e. debt included) at the beginning of 2019 by Vivendi (controlled by the Bolloré family), Editis should very soon be acquired by the Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky for a price of around 700 million. Exclusive negotiations have just started.

These last years, Michèle Benbunan, boss of Editis, managed to reinvigorate the group’s distribution-broadcasting activity (Interforum), which developed through contracts signed with third-party publishers such as Trédaniel and L’Iconoclaste & Les Arènes, as well as than with the editorial structures own big sellers of books such as Joël Dicker, Riad Sattouf, Eric Zemmour or the screenwriter Mr Tan (Antoine Dole) and the designer Diane Le Feyer, the authors of the hit comic book series Mortelle Adele . In 2021, broadcasting-distribution has thus become the group’s main source of income (at 344 million euros), ahead of literature (336 million). In all, 60 million euros have also been allocated to the modernization of the Malesherbes site of Interforum.

But all this will not have been enough to avoid the destruction of value. In 2022, the group’s turnover fell, over one year, by 8.1% – at constant exchange rates and perimeter -, to 789 million euros, when the publishing market , him, contracted, in value, by 3% over the same period . “Editis suffered from a double circumstantial discount between the French publishing market, which remains at a high level but fell in 2022, compared to the previous financial year, and the sharp rise in paper prices, argues the banker. adviser Jean-Clément Texier (Compagnie Financière de Communication). But there are also objective reasons specific to Editis which explain this loss of valuation”. Overview of the main issues awaiting the buyer.

1) Do not miss the mark on the school

This is one of the big projects on the table. Very cyclical because driven by program reforms, the part of the school has been sluggish for a few years. A situation concerning all the leading players in this market, from Belin (Humensis) to Magnard (Albin Michel) via Nathan and Bordas (Editis) and the houses of its eternal rival: Hachette Education and Hatier (Hachette).

But where the education segment (including school and extracurricular) represents a little less than 20% of the latter’s business, it weighed, in 2020, for more than a quarter of the income of Editis which is more dependent on it. The group will therefore have no room for error during the next school reform. Except that at the end of last year, Editis saw from Catherine Lucet (who supervised the education branch), after more than twenty years spent in the house. “It’s a big loss for the group because she is an excellent professional who had a very detailed knowledge of this very special and specific market”, relates a former employee of Editis.

In mid-February, Editis unveiled a new organization, appointing Benjamin Tancrède, (also the group’s digital and innovation director) as head of the Education & Training division. “Editis has positioned itself on the digitization of schools with the acquisition of Educlever (e-learning), the entry into the capital of Meet in Class or the launch of Capeezy (school support). But the group remains behind Hachette, which took a step ahead by buying Lelivrescolaire.fr in 2020, notes an expert in the sector. Do not forget the essentials. If digital is a major axis of development for schools, it remains above all a prescription market. This requires a detailed knowledge of the functioning and needs of the teaching body and national education”.

2) Calming the situation at Plon

The challenge is more symbolic than economic for a group the size of Editis. It prevents. The situation for a long time grotesque at Plon – one of the most prestigious houses in the group – has damaged the reputation of the number two French publisher. For almost a year, Plon was split in two, with two different directions (with Lise Boëll, the former editor at Albin Michel d’Eric Zemmour, on the one hand, and Céline Thoulouze with the historical team) located in two different places in Paris and which have gone so far as to make two separate autumn literary seasons.

At the beginning of March, Editis ended up deciding by appointing the first general manager of a Plon that was to be reunited… in part, at least. “Given the situation, there is a good chance that Céline Thoulouze will leave the Editis fold, and it is quite likely that successful authors (rices) such as François-Xavier Dillard, Raphaëlle Giordano or even Karine Giebel will follow her”, confides a employee of Editis. A file that will be the responsibility of the future buyer, while an external audit recently pointed the finger at Lise Boëll’s management methods at Plon.

“Plon only generates around ten million euros in turnover per year and is only Editis’ fifth or sixth general literature publishing house in terms of revenue, explains an internal executive. But how do you attract good writers and editors into the group when they see this? “.

3) Attract talent

To once again become an attractive home for authors as well as publishers. This is going to be one of the other big files of the buyer of Editis who will have seen many talents gradually take to their heels in recent years. Particularly under the era of Planeta (Owner of Editis from 2008 to 2018 before its resale to Vivendi) with in particular the departures in 2016 of editor Muriel Beyer For Humensis (Scor) then a few months later Guillaume Musso at Calmann-Lévy (Hachette) directed by Philippe Robinet, former publisher of Editis.

“Under the era of Vivendi and Michèle Benbunan, there are no such major departures. But there were no big “hits” either, while there were opportunities like during the transfer of Pierre Lemaître from Albin Michel to Calmann-Lévy in 2020″, notes a good connoisseur of the ‘industry. As a result, Editis’ market share (in value) in the general literature segment (paperback and non-paperback) fell from 22% to 17% between 2018 and 2022, according to our information. “And Editis has not accelerated enough on comics, the economic weight of which has gone crescendo, specifies the same expert. There are still good publishers at Editis. But to attract talent, you need financial means and a stable horizon”.

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